When we made the difficult decision to suspend operations at the Burnett Calvert Hospice House in the fall of 2020, it was after several months of serious and unrelenting staffing shortages. Unfortunately, workforce challenges in healthcare have only worsened in the past year. Vacancies in clinical disciplines including nursing, social work, and certified nursing assistant positions have proven to be increasingly difficult to fill, for us as well as for neighboring hospices, home health agencies, and hospitals. State and nationwide, the healthcare workforce shortage is more critical now than it was this time last year.
In early 2021 we began working with a healthcare consulting firm that specializes in hospice operations. The consultant’s assessment included a comprehensive review of our census trends, referral patterns, staffing matrix, and finances for the past five years. The assessment concluded that Calvert Hospice had taken every reasonable step toward maintaining operations at the House prior to its closure in October 2020. However, the relatively small size of our agency means that staffing shortages at the House impact us quickly. We simply do not have the same pool of resources to draw from as hospices with a higher census and larger clinical staff. In light of these findings, as well as continued recruitment challenges, the Board of Directors has determined that the Burnett Calvert Hospice House will remain closed to patient care for the immediate future. We will continue to reassess possibilities for reopening, and are hopeful that the future will bring stabilization to the healthcare workforce that will allow us to bring patients back to the facility.
In the meantime, there are no plans to make any changes to the way we utilize the House. We will continue to use it for staff meetings and education, volunteer training, and Shoppe for Hospice inventory, as well as additional administrative functions. We will continue to perform all necessary routine maintenance to ensure that we keep the option for reopening to patient care on the table for the future.
Everyone at Calvert Hospice hoped that we would be able to reopen by the end of this year, and we know that our team and our community still feel the loss of the Hospice House. This decision was made using the best possible data to inform it, and taking the entire agency’s operations into consideration. The fact remains that Calvert Hospice is a premiere hospice agency, and we continue to fulfill our mission of caring for those patients and families in Calvert County who need us most. Nothing about that has changed. We will face this challenge as we have others in the past – with grace, and persistence, and emerging stronger than ever on the other side.